The soul singer remains an enigma that not even this incisive biography can unravel.

SOUL SURVIVOR

A BIOGRAPHY OF AL GREEN

The dark and mysterious back story of a truly great singer.

Biographer McDonough (Tammy Wynette: Tragic Country Queen, 2010, etc.) specializes in tough cases: his revelatory book Shakey (2002) began as an authorized biography of Neil Young until dogged reporting caused the authorization to be rescinded. Here, there was never an issue of cooperation since there was little chance that Green (b. 1946) would cooperate and even less chance that he would be happy with the results. While the book gives the singer his due as one of the soul giants—largely crediting producer Willie Mitchell with helping the singer find himself—it otherwise depicts him as eccentric and erratic at best, a heartless skinflint to most and perhaps even culpable in the death of a suicidal woman who was one of his countless lovers. Yet McDonough’s final verdict on his subject is that “his life had been so endlessly chaotic and strange” and that “Al remains inscrutable.” Amid astute criticism of the artist’s work, the author does his best to sustain a cohesive narrative and present a coherent subject. Yet the same artist who regularly cheated his musicians and collaborators also showed uncommon generosity toward a drummer who was down on his luck, and the man who seemed motivated by money and ego forsook his pop career for the pulpit after an epiphany at Disneyland. The whole process seems mysterious to McDonough and will likely to readers as well. Was this some sort of career move or a genuine spiritual conversion? How could a man of God continue to be so abusive to women? “You sound like everybody out on the street. I want to hear Al Green,” Mitchell once said to his developing singer, who replied, “I don’t know who Al Green is.”

The soul singer remains an enigma that not even this incisive biography can unravel.

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-306-82267-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

more